Once-in-a-lifetime experiences await Rutherford County Democratic Party members Bud Harmon and Kellie Inskeep when they participate in President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
This will be the first inauguration for Harmon, 67, the former county party chair, and Inskeep, who is in her 40s, the Democratic Women of Rutherford County president. Harmon’s never been to Washington before while Inskeep raced in two Marine Corps Marathons in the nation’s capital.
“This time, I don’t get a medal,” Inskeep joked. “I get a president.”
“I’m excited about being on the ground with all that hope and enthusiasm,” said Harmon, joking he’ll use binoculars to watch the ceremony. “I’m just excited about being there with all those folks.”
Obama will take the oath of office at noon outside the U.S. Capitol.
Unfortunately, Harmon’s son Travis can’t attend with his father. Travis portrays Jackie Broyles of the infamous Red State Update fame. Broyles’ “Jackie for President” bumper sticker was found on his mother Marty’s car. Broyles and his partner Dunlap became known nationwide when they questioned Democratic nominees during a debate.
Harmon described himself as a lifelong Democrat who is “old enough to remember when liberal meant open-minded.”
He compares Obama’s inauguration to another young president, John F. Kennedy, who became president when Harmon was an 18-year-old in the Air Force. He and other young people were excited about Kennedy.
“There’s a feeling things are going to get better,” Harmon said. “Obama brings back what we’re capable of.”
Harmon first learned about Obama when he read his books and got excited about his candidacy. He believed Hillary Clinton would win the nomination though.
In Rutherford County, many people feared vandalism of their Obama signs but just before the election, the Democratic headquarters was flooded with people wanting Obama campaign materials.
“It’s a miracle how he overcame all the odds,” Harmon noted.
Harmon believes the last eight years were marked by fear.
“It’s a new day in my country and I will walk a little easier,” Harmon said. “I think he’ll bring out the best in us.”
Inskeep volunteered in Obama’s campaign in Ohio with his election giving her a sense of relief.
Although she didn’t vote for George Bush, Inskeep said she supported him because he was president through the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan.
“Going into Iraq was the biggest failure of the Bush administration,” Inskeep said, adding Bush proceeded lacking clues and good advice in what she termed an unnecessary war, leaving the war for Obama to clean up.
“We are now going to have to sacrifice for George Bush’s war,” Inskeep said, adding she believed the economic recession is linked to the war.
Inskeep feels comfort from Obama’s realistic stance of what’s ahead economically.
“He’s not candy-coating anything on what we’re going to face as a nation,” Inskeep said. “We’re hurting right now and bracing for worse before it gets better.”
She hopes her neighbors and other citizens who didn’t support Obama’s candidacy will support him as president.
“I’m probably most excited my generation is now leading our nation,” Inskeep said. “I think his transparency and what he want to do in terms of change will make sure we are involved in the process.”
She’s anticipating the inauguration and bought a video camera to take in the historical event, especially Obama’s speech.
“I have a feeling it’s going to be the (Martin Luther King Jr.’s) ‘I Have a Dream’ speech times 12 — not about black or white America but about us as a whole,” Inskeep said.